You’ve viewed many healthcare and pharmaceutical websites, and you may have noticed that they all look the same. Have you ever wondered why healthcare branding and overall website design is so bland? Today we’re going to explore my theories about why many healthcare websites look boring, serious, scientific, and redundant. I’m also going to discuss why it’s important to differentiate your company’s brand from the rest.
Why Do Healthcare Websites Look the Same?
We’ve all seen these websites. They use a sanctioned industry color palette and similar messaging such as “we bring hope and change to the patients that are suffering from (insert the disease)” or “we take a novel therapeutic approach to doing X, Y or Z” or “we’re a discovery-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on…” The imagery is all the same – the older couple holding hands walking to a park while the grandkids run in front of them. Much of healthcare marketing today looks the same, and my theories about why that is are below:
1. The Herd Mentality
Marketers tend to be influenced by their peers. Presenting Company B in the same way as Company A feels safe and familiar. This decision gets amped up by the inherent risks pharmaceutical and healthcare companies face and their regulatory hurdles. It’s also risky for a marketer to put out something different from the rest. However, it’s equally dangerous to follow the herd and not differentiate your company because it might get lost among other the brands.
2. The Seriousness of Healthcare
Another theory is the seriousness of healthcare. If you take any great marketer and put them in a healthcare environment, within three months, they’re speaking fluent science. That language is the root of the problem. We know healthcare is serious, and lives are at stake; science and accuracy are critical. Not to mention, many of the founders of healthcare and pharma companies are scientists, and they innately use scientific language. However, the problem is that science is rational and emotionless. It doesn’t move markets alone. Successful pharma and healthcare websites break the science down for their patients using engaging images and simpler language with a good dose of emotion.
3. Companies Don’t Know Their Audiences
Another one of my theories is that some healthcare companies are not in tune with their audiences. Have they walked in patients’ shoes or sat and talked with them? Probably not. Most leverage what I call “aggregated anecdotal information” but haven’t actually spoken with their patients. The challenge here is that it’s tough to connect with your audience and change behaviors if you don’t know their motivations or worldview. It’s difficult to break out of the sameness mold when you don’t understand your audience.
Examples of Healthcare Companies with Great Branding
There are a few creative and inspiring healthcare brands that stand out to me. Right from the beginning, these companies were deep into science and discovery, yet they created a brand space for themselves.
The first example is Bluebird. A bluebird makes a great logo on its own, but it also stands for happiness and sunny skies which conveys hope and “better horizons ahead” to patients – it has emotion.
Sage Therapeutics is another instance of a brand doing it right. Sage means wise. It’s a researcher, someone who will tell the truth. The term is very true to the brand. Sage’s website also engages with strong graphics and easy-to-understand yet informative copy. It’s a good example of how to talk to patients.
My third example of great branding is Juno Therapeutics. Juno was an ancient Roman goddess and queen of the heavens. She projects “caregiver” which is exactly what patients need from their healthcare. Juno’s web copy gets patients’ attention with active and inspiring language.
My last example is of a company that truly knows their patients and serves as their advocate. Vertex Pharmaceuticals did an amazing job learning about their audience by getting intimately involved in the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) community through CF charities. The company also advocates for patients with programs that help CF patients lead active lives including scholarships.
How to Differentiate Your Healthcare Brand
Breaking from the herd with a great brand story or name from the company’s very beginning will differentiate you. If you’re already established but need a stronger brand, consider a change. You can make your website, marketing, and outreach materials more patient-centric and engaging. Some ways you can do that are below.
Start with Your Brand Story
Begin with your brand story because this is a space where you have more freedom for creativity. You won’t have the regulatory scrutiny to deal with. Your healthcare brand story is your company’s vision, who you are, what you do, and why you do it. This story helps create an emotional connection with patients.
Listen to Your Patients
Sincerely speak with your patients. Find out what their lives are like. Listen to them on social media and take note of the language your patients use because it’s how you should speak to them. After all, it is your patient’s healthcare journey, not yours. It’s interesting to note that the patient has a lopsided influence on prescribing behavior. If they tell their doctors what they want, most doctors will prescribe it. So, the better you know your patients, the more likely you’ll become part of their world.
Lead with Emotion and Tell Stories
We always tell our clients to lead with emotion and follow with science. Too many healthcare companies want to get to the science right away. However, science leads to conclusions, but emotion leads to action. Put the science further down in the conversation and the people who need it, such as scientists, will find it. To bring out emotion, show patients the miracles that your brand has performed for others. Think about it from a patient standpoint. Most people probably can’t tell you how aspirin works in their body, but they know it helps. Connect with your patients and help them understand what you can do for them through a story. Stories are what change behavior. Use high-level visuals and keep it as simple as possible.
Final Thoughts on Healthcare Branding
In conclusion, each of us is bombarded with brand messages each day from a variety of companies. Medicine is something that should inspire. If you leverage that wisely, you’ll be in the minority of companies that get through to patients.
Need Help with Branding?
If you need help developing your brand, assistance with healthcare website development, executing digital marketing strategies, or developing digital content, we’d love to help. Just reach out and contact us so we can start discussing your messaging and how you can stand out from the crowd.